The girl who I had been noticing all week at the hotel had, by some divine miracle, decided to attend this bash as well. I sipped my shitty American beer, trying to possess an air of nonchalance, but her caramilky skin, wavy long brown hair, and the flowery orange dress she wore made me forget what cool was. She sat down on the off-white cushion next to mine and we started talking. I had originally thought she must have been in her mid-twenties, but was somewhat relieved (at least now I could relate) and somewhat disappointed (every heterosexual teenage guy lusts for older women) to learn that she too crawled from the womb in 1987. Her voice came to life when I told her I was turning eighteen in just over an hour.
“St. Patty’s day must be an amazing day for a birthday! We’ll have to celebrate,” she smiled and subtly shifted her body towards mine, her smooth kneecap brushing the hair of my thigh. Ideas of intensely bathing our nude golden skin in the Floridian beach while grains of sand fought to escape from between us filled my thoughts.
Aside from our age, I cannot remember what we discussed, but I do know that we talked free-flowingly for about half an hour, mindless of the party’s other guests. I asked if she wanted to share the two-paper joint my best friend Kyle had rolled up for me. She politely declined, but told me to find her once I was finished.
I ventured outside to the hotel’s pool area, and sparked the herbal essence with Kyle and two girls we knew from home who were also vacationing in Daytona Beach. The smoke completed my lungs and as I exhaled my head flew skyward. I took another toke and my body became one with the breeze. It was as though my feet could rest in the ocean while my eyes blinked beside the stars. I passed the spliff to the left and let my eyelids take a nap. I was spending a week in paradisiacal weather with my best friend, was fresh off a conversation with a goddess-like girl whom I had never thought I was going to talk to, my legal adulthood was fast approaching, and we had been smart enough to smuggle marijuana across the border to consummate it all. Had the moment been eternal, I would have been delighted.
Upon butting out the fire, I climbed the stairs back up to the festivities. Our eyes met instantly and her and I reconvened at the couch. This time, however, there was no free-flowing conversation. In fact, there was no conversation at all. I was too fucking stoned to relate with anyone that wasn’t also seeing with kaleidoscope eyes. She continued to sit next to me for twenty minutes while I explored the depths of my head for something that was interesting about me or her or anything. As I did, my torso gave birth to beads of sweat beneath my t-shirt and my left leg began shaking. Her knees hinted toward the door. Anything, just say anything fuck! The black empty cavern that was my mind offered me nothing, and our knowing each other had come to the point where even a glance in her direction would have pierced our skin with daggers of awkwardness. She stood up slowly, saying, “it was nice meeting you,” smiled, and walked through what was left of the crowd and out the door. I remained on the off-white sofa, clutching the bottle of Budweiser that I no longer wanted to taste. I never saw her caramilky skin, wavy long brown hair, or the flowery orange dress ever again.
I woke up on the inflatable navy blue mattress in Kyle’s grandparents’ condo the next morning. My entire body felt as though it had been punched by a giant’s fist, but my mind felt much worse. From my headphones, Oasis sang, “Today was gonna be the day, but they’ll never throw it back to you. By now you should’ve somehow realized what you’re not to do.” I realized I couldn’t go on living without questioning how I was doing it. For the past couple years, I had been substituting weed for the opportunity to get close with, or at the very least flirt with girls. Kyle and I agreed that the “mind expansion” we had been experimenting with many times per day for about the past 700 of them had run its course. We took the tinfoil containing our last couple grams and threw it in a hedge a few hundred meters from the condo. We walked back to where we had come from and the sky seemed bluer than before.
Back at his grandparents’ place, Kyle and I talked about all the great times we had getting high.
Within an hour, we were back at the hedge peeling back branches and sifting through the shrubbery; yesterday’s rain and mud splashed onto our shins and bathing suits. As the sun shone through the twigs and green needles, our shiny silver friend spoke to us by reflecting the day’s light into our eyes. I grabbed what we should not have thrown away and we marched back to the condo.
Kyle uncrumpled the aluminum, removed the ganja, and spun it into one final cannon. The Bic butane flame ignited the paper and Mary Jane crackled in combustion. The fumes infiltrated my insides, and it made me feel stupid. Each exhalation left me more grounded than the last as the joint slowly transformed into a roach. My feet may have been wet from rooting through the hedge, but my eyes were nowhere near the stars. It was now really time to extinguish the fire. I flicked the resin-soaked remnant into a puddle. Tsssst. The sky was gray now, but at least I knew I wouldn’t be searching through bushes ever again.